I just heard, in the background of some internet radio broadcast, the Afghan military band attempt a national anthem of a visiting diplomat. It was a horribly out of tune, a-rhythmical attempt, but they just kept pushing this ailing tune forward, and in those squawking horns you could hear the furrow browed valor of this country just trying to manage. It seemed like such a noble act, for some reason, and it wrecked me a bit. I am easily wreck-able these days. Bear with me as I unload some of this: Our daughter Koruna, had been sick a little while and the midnight cough/cry of a one year old really does hurt me more than it does her. Her cousin, my dear sweet niece, Aurelia, broke her elbow. ouch. My wife has been under a dense fog of nausea for two and half months of morning (day and night) sickness, the damping effect of which is hard to overstate but ambiguous at the same time.
Then there is the macroscopic view: Devastation in Japan. Nuclear meltdown. Radioactive plumes and a death toll that sounds like numbers but echoes the weight of the tsunami as it plows into our psyches. All this during unprecedented revolution in the middle east and north Africa where the people are seeking democracy and demanding freedom from dictators backed by the U.S. The protestors are entering the streets en masse with rocks and tree branches and are meeting anti aircraft artillery and tear gas with "made in the USA" on it. Up through the Suez lumbers the thirsty war ships ready to help "keep the peace." Then there's the shit they're pulling in Wisconsin and now they are trying to close the public schools in our district and 15 others here in Austin, TX.
The microscopic is what got me in the end. Scooting home from an appointment I saw a opossum in the road and doubled back to see if it was hit or just acting and in need of re-location to a safer place. It was hit, and from it's underbelly were stumbling six or so furless and devastated newborn opossum babies. It was cold outside and they were dying slowly. I hate to recall it now and I am sorry for my selfish catharsis here and embarrassed that this is what it took to bring me to my knees when so much human suffering is presently palpable, but this is what wrecked me. With sick and injured babies at home and one on the way, something got tied up and cinched down in my belly and I just lost it there on the side of the road.
The Word That Is a Prayer
By Ellery Akers
One thing you know when you say it:
all over the earth people are saying it with you;
a child blurting it out as the seizures take her,
a woman reciting it on a cot in a hospital.
What if you take a cab through the Tenderloin:
at a street light, a man in a wool cap,
yarn unraveling across his face, knocks at the window;
he says, Please.
By the time you hear what he’s saying,
the light changes, the cab pulls away,
and you don’t go back, though you know
someone just prayed to you the way you pray.
Please: a word so short
it could get lost in the air
as it floats up to God like the feather it is,
knocking and knocking, and finally
falling back to earth as rain,
as pellets of ice, soaking a black branch,
collecting in drains, leaching into the ground,
and you walk in that weather every day.
My working days have been saturated in this weather we are all sharing. This piece is not begging for any color even though I am aching to put some in somewhere. It's just this endurance race of self observation through these clouds. Spring is coming. This is all part of a cycle. My prayers go out to those Afghan's and Japanese and everyone else who are enduring real suffering.